Chupp’s Trotter Rocking at Springfield

By Mike Paradise

 

When the Merv Chupp Stable’s veteran trotter Pine Dream was retired prior to the 2022 racing season, his owner and conditioner faced a tough assignment replacing who I called the barn’s “money-making machine.”

 

Acquired for $27,000 at the 2018 Blood Horse Sale, the now 10-year-old Pine Dream raked-in over $300,000 for Merv and his wife Kelly, more than 10 times what they dished out for the Pinetucky trotter who Merv calls “probably the best sale buy I ever made.”

 

Pine Dream ended his racing career with 48 first place finishes, a mark of 1:53.1 taken at the age of six at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway, and earnings of $458,144, with much of that amount for the Chupp’s.

 

The Chupp Racing Stable’s elite 10-year-old trotter Pine Dream (shown here) was retired earlier this year and has been replaced with Rock Party, gunning for his third consecutive win today at Springfield. (Four Footed Fotos)

“The horse went through a surgery and a long layoff, and it was just time to retire him,” said Marv. “He’s earned it.”

 

Merv might have hit another sale goodie with last fall’s $14,000 purchase of the trotter Rock Party who will bring a three-race winning streak into Friday’s Open trot at Springfield.

 

The five-year-old son of Cantab Hall, out of the Muscles Yankee dam Scream And Shout (1:53.1, $302,734), has been perfect for the Chupp family on the Illinois State Fairgrounds dirt track with its sweeping turns, going 4-for-4 there this year.

 

Thus far in his first season for the Crete, Illinois based stable, Rock Party is a seven-time winner, mostly in Midwest track Opens, and is nearing the $50,000 plateau in purse earnings.

 

“Rock Party is a good trotter, but I don’t think he’s another Pine Dream,” added Merv. “He’s hard-headed but he has been better lately.”

 

Rock Party made just under $100,000 in his first three racing seasons and was highly regarded as a yearling, going for $90,000 at the 2017 Lexington Select Sale, so his successful 2022 campaign for Chupp isn’t exactly a bolt from out of the blue.

 

“I’m concerned about him after Springfield closes though,” continued Merv. “He’s not good in the turns. Hawthorne and Springfield are mile tracks that suit him.”

 

It Won’t Be Easy: Rock Party’s winning streak at Springfield landed him the assigned outside eight-post in today’s fifth race $12,300 Open and there are plenty of tough foes starting inside of him.

 

Night of Champions winners Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) has the six-slot while the Carl Becker Memorial winner Annas Lucky Star (Cordarius Stewart) starts from the seven.

 

A surprise starter is the talented three-year-old Illinois bred filly Funky Wiggle, a strong candidate of the state’s 2022 Harness Horse of the Year award with her gaudy record of 9 wins in 11 starts and a 1:51.4 mile at Du Quoin, the second fastest ever for any ICF trotter. The streaking (eight in a row) Curt Grummel trainee was assigned the one-post against a field of older and more seasoned horses.

 

The two through five slots belong to Louzotic, Loulita, Cash Hit, and Heath Bar. All six figure career earners.

 

Dygert Replay: The Steve Searle stable’s Lousdobb (Casey Leonard) is making his first start today since winning his fifth consecutive race in the September 10th Erwin F. Dygert Memorial championship at Hawthorne.

 

The “lock” for this year’s ICF 3-year-old male trotting honors will take on a small but solid field that includes the Dygert runner-up Fox Valley Cairo (Kyle Wilfong) and Reign And Shine (Travis Seekman), who drops out of Illinois Opens.

 

That’s It: The curtain comes down on harness racing in Illinois for this season today and it won’t return to the Land of Lincoln for nine long months. When it does in June of 2023 it will be at Springfield for another non-wagering meeting.

 

The return to Hawthorne and pari-mutuel betting in Illinois unfortunately won’t take place until next September.